In 2014, when she and her husband, Kevin Scott, started their family foundation, Shannon Hunt-Scott admits that she was essentially “winging it.” Fortunately, some of their fellow philanthropists were able to offer guidance and make introductions to help the pair navigate the process. “I just decided that I wanted the autonomy and freedom to make my own decisions about where my donor dollars were going to go,” Hunt-Scott recalls over a recent lunch at Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell. She and Scott, the CTO of Microsoft, met as Ph.D. students at the University of Virginia: She was in the history program; he was in the computer science program. The native East Coasters moved to the Bay Area in 2006 and now call Los Gatos home.
The Scott Foundation—which has given or pledged over $3 million—initially focused on three key areas: childhood hunger, early childhood education, and girls and women in STEM. While its scope has broadened to encompass additional concerns, such as women’s reproductive rights, the current emphasis is on “educational equity,” says Hunt-Scott. “How do we level the playing eld for the greatest number of people so that they can bypass the obstacles that sit in their way to success?” The mother of two is on the board of Breakthrough Silicon Valley, a nonprofit that supports low-income and first-generation college-bound students to prepare for and get into four-year colleges, while also inspiring talented young adults to pursue careers in education; and Educare California at Silicon Valley, whose model early-learning school in San Jose’s Santee neighborhood enrolls 160 students, ages 5 and under. The latter’s Family Resource Center also serves more than 700 families. To mark its two-year anniversary, Educare has a major fundraiser—or “friendraiser”—planned for Nov. 15 at the school, 10 to noon.
The couple’s children, ages 9 and 7, attend Hillbrook School, where the family endowed the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship that launched in July. The objective is to foster innovation and problem-solving skills, instilling in students the belief that they can make a difference and effect change beyond the JK-8 campus. “Kevin and I have been incredibly lucky throughout our lives,” says Hunt-Scott. “It’s on us to give back in response. at’s what I role-model to my kids. They have an obligation to do something—and their something can look different from ours; it can look different from each other’s. But it’s important that they grow up knowing we have a place in this community and need to give back to it.”
Originally published in the November/December issue of Silicon Valley